Seeking to reverse criticism of its environmental record, the University will establish a $1 million “Yale Green Fund” to pursue renewed environmental goals, University Provost Alison Richard said Monday.
In a Friday letter to the Advisory Committee on Environmental Management, or ACEM, Richard announced a new set of environmental principles for the University. Richard and Yale President Richard Levin pledged to allocate the money over three years to implement the policies, which are designed to make the University’s operations more environmentally friendly.
The move comes as Yale makes visible moves to recommit itself to environmental issues following criticism of its current policies. An April 2001 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education ranked Yale’s recycling program 19th in a survey of 20 schools.
The ACEM, which the Provost appointed in 2001, presented an interim report to Richard in April. In the report, the Committee outlined the new principles, which Richard approved this fall. The committee also proposed 14 projects to enhance the University’s environmental policies.
Richard classified the 14 projects under three categories. The first category includes projects that are relatively simple and inexpensive, while the second category’s projects are more expensive. The third category includes long-term goals.
“[Third category projects] will change the way Yale does business,” said Pierre Hohenberg, deputy provost for science and technology. “Those are things we will have to take seriously.”
Long-term goals include appointing a sustainability director to oversee the development and implementation of environmental programs. Another goal outlined in the report, if realized, would bring all construction under standards for environmental safety outlined by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
Other proposed projects include improving recycling receptacles, initiating a pilot study of energy use and evaluating landscaping practices for their impact on the environment.
Committee chairman Thomas Graedel, a professor at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, said committee members were excited by Richard’s announcement.
“We’re extremely pleased,” Graedel said. “That indicates more than anything else that Yale is very serious about these issues.”
Richard said the new commitments will fundamentally improve the way Yale is run. But she emphasized that initiating large-scale environmental projects at a large research university will be a challenging task.
“We’re going to have to set ourselves aggressive goals, but realistic goals,” Richard said.
Committee members said the new initiatives are not an explicit reaction to reports of Yale’s under-performance in this area. But they said such reports were crucial in raising awareness about environmental concerns at Yale.
“The article was describing a situation — in which Yale was not at the forefront. And that is correct,” Hohenberg said of the article in the Chronicle.
Jeffrey Powell, a professor of biology at Yale and ACEM member, said the committee had carefully considered its proposals and had been practical in its requests.
“We didn’t go overboard,” Powell said. “We tried to be reasonable.”
Graedel said the committee will now focus on allocating money from the Green Fund to various projects. The first project will be to establish a Web site that would make access to information about Yale’s environmental programs more readily available.
“We are looking at our recommendations from a standpoint of prioritizing them in relation to the Green Fund,” Graedel said.
The University has also recently made efforts to publicize improvements in its School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Powell said the committee should continue to focus on environmental awareness.
“I really believe it is the attitude of the faculty, the students, the employees. An attitude change needs to be instilled,” Powell said.